Select Committee on Education and Employment Tenth Special Report


TENTH SPECIAL REPORT


The Education and Employment Committee has agreed to the following Special Report:—

THE WORK OF THE COMMITTEE IN THE 2000-01 SESSION

1. In March 2000, in its Report, Shifting the Balance: Select Committees and the Executive, the Liaison Committee asked each departmental select committee to provide an annual report on its activities and the impact of its recommendations.[1] As we had not produced such a Report before, we chose, in our first 'annual' Report, to cover the period from the Committee's nomination in July 1997 to the end of 2000. That Report was published in January 2000 as our First Special Report of 2000-01.[2]

2. In its recent follow-up Report, Shifting the Balance: Unfinished Business, the Liaison Committee stated:

"Committee annual reports have provided exactly the audit of effectiveness and working methods that we had envisaged. They have also created invaluable introductory and briefing material for each committee; we expect that recent annual reports will become required reading for new Ministers, new committee members, officials, witnesses, and indeed anyone who wants to know how a particular committee goes about its business ... annual reports should help improve public information and understanding".[3]

3. With a general election imminent and Parliament to be dissolved within days, it seems to us right that we should now add to our earlier Report, our reflections on our activities in the last few months of the Parliament. Taken together, these two Reports provide a complete examination of the work of the Education and Employment Committee in the 1997-2001 Parliament.

4. The Education and Employment Committee is appointed under Standing Order No. 152 to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department of Education and Employment (DfEE) and its associated public bodies. We have the power to appoint two Sub-committees. In practice the Education Sub-committee and the Employment Sub-committee have operated independently, with separate Chairmen and little overlap of membership. Inquiries have also been conducted by the full Education and Employment Committee where both Sub-committees have an interest in the subject. This structure has allowed us to address issues across a broad spectrum of policy areas within the remit of the DfEE.

5. In the 1997-2001 Parliament we have agreed 34 Reports and 34 Special Reports (including this one), of which six Reports and nine Special Reports have been agreed in the three months since we made our last report on our activities. A complete list of Reports and Special Reports made during the Parliament appears at the back of this volume.

Membership and turnover

6. No provision is made in Standing Orders regarding the size of the membership of our sub-committees but in practice the Education Sub-committee has operated with between ten and thirteen members and the Employment Sub-committee with eight, nine or ten members. A high turnover of membership has been exacerbated by persistent delays in filling vacancies. The Employment Sub-committee's turnover this Session alone is over 20 per cent. Its vacancy for a Conservative member to replace another who ceased to be active on the Committee following appointment as a party spokesman in September 2000 remained unfilled at the end of the Parliament.

TURNOVER IN MEMBERSHIP


  
Full Committee
Education Sub-committee
Employment Sub-committee

Session 1997-98
18%
30%
20%
Session 1998-99
25%
25%
11%
Session 1999-2000
47%
46%
44%
Session 2000-01
11%
0%
22%


The work of the Committee and its Sub-committees

7. The Education Sub-committee's work this Session has been dominated by higher education issues. We have made two Reports on the topic, Higher Education: Access[4] and Higher Education: Student Retention.[5] The Education Sub-committee also completed its inquiry into Early Years which resulted in our First Report of the Session.[6]

8. It has also continued its regular scrutiny of the work of the Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools and the non-ministerial department which he heads, the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED). Our Second Report examined OFSTED's Corporate Plan 2000[7] and the Education Sub-committee subsequently took oral evidence from Mr Mike Tomlinson, who succeeded Mr Chris Woodhead as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools towards the end of 2000. This latter evidence session provided the basis for our Eighth Report of this Session.[8]

9. The Education Sub-committee has also held oral evidence sessions to follow up the Committee's Reports on Early Years[9] and Higher Education: Access.[10]

10. The Employment Sub-committee has persisted with its scrutiny of the Government's New Deal, a feature of its work over the Parliament. Our Fifth Report, New Deal: An Evaluation, looked particularly at the effectiveness of New Deal for Young People over its first two full years of operation and highlighted the challenge for New Deal in helping those unemployed people who are furthest from employability.[11] In Recruiting Unemployed People we examined the Employment Service's work with both job seekers' allowance claimants and with employers.[12]

11. The Employment Sub-committee began its inquiry into Age Discrimination in Employment with an informal seminar with representatives from the Third Age Employment Network, the Carnegie Trust, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the Trades Union Congress and Professor Stephen Fothergill from the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University. The Sub-committee found this a valuable exercise, which set the context for its inquiry and helped explore broader issues. We would like to record our gratitude to those who took part in the seminar. Our Report on Age Discrimination in Employment looked at the extent and effects of unfair age discrimination in employment and considered the possible implementation options for the EU Directive of Equal Treatment which requires Member States to have anti-discrimination legislation in place by 2006.[13] The Employment Sub-committee has also taken evidence on the work-life balance.[14]

12. The full Committee has continued to examine DfEE objectives, targets and expenditure, taking evidence from Sir Michael Bichard, the DfEE's Permanent Secretary, and other departmental officials on DfEE Funding and the DfEE Departmental Report 2001.[15]

Visits and visitors

13. During the Session we have continued to benefit from our exposure to experience and expertise gained not only through the formal submission of evidence to the Committee or one of its Sub-committees but also through informal visits to institutions and organisations elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Details of these visits will be set out in the Sessional Return for 2000-01. We have not undertaken any overseas visits this Session.

14. We have had no further meetings with Committees from other countries to add to the list given in our previous Special Report.[16]

Relations with Government and Government Replies

15. We commented in our earlier Report that we had established and maintained a healthy and co-operative relationship with the DfEE.[17] We are pleased that this relationship has been maintained over the last Session of the Parliament. Ministers from the DfEE have continued to appear before us upon request. Since the beginning of the year, Government Ministers have appeared before one or other of our Sub-committees on four occasions. We are particularly grateful to Ministers and DfEE officials for their efforts to ensure that we received replies to some of our Reports this Session well within the normal two month period, enabling us to publish them before the dissolution of Parliament.

16. We have updated the Table previously given on the time taken by the Department to reply to our Reports. The table below covers the entire 1997-2001 Parliament:

TIMING OF GOVERNMENT REPLIES TO REPORTS, SESSIONS 1997-98 TO 2000-01


Subject
Published Date
Date of receipt
of response
No of Days


Session 1997-98
First Report: Teacher Recruitment: What can be done?
3.11.97
28.1.98
86
Second Report: New Deal
19.11.97
20.1.98
62
Third Report: The Dearing Report: Some Funding Issues
10.12.97
9.2.98
61
Fourth Report: The Relationship between TECs and the proposed Regional Development Agencies
3.3.98
13.5.98
71
Fifth Report: Disaffected Children
6.4.98
23.6.98
78
Sixth Report: Further Education
4.6.98
26.11.98
175
Seventh Report: Pathways into Work for Lone Parents
28.7.98
14.10.98
78
Eighth Report: The New Deal Pathfinders
4.8.98
9.10.98
66
Ninth Report: The Role of Headteachers
3.11.98
4.1.99
62

Session 1998-99
First Report: Active Labour Market Policies and their Delivery: Lessons from Australia
26.1.99
n/a
n/a
Second Report: Part-Time Working
30.3.99
18.6.99
80
Third Report: Highly Able Children
28.4.99
29.6.99
62
Fourth Report: The Work of OFSTED
14.6.99
26.7.99
42
Fifth Report: The Role of School Governors
21.7.99
25.10.99
96
Sixth Report: The ONE Service Pilots
27.7.99
4.10.99
69
Seventh Report: The Performance and Future of the Employment Service
28.7.99
7.10.99
71
Eighth Report: Access for All? A Survey of Post-16 Participation
10.11.99
21.1.00
72
Ninth Report: Opportunities for Disabled People
24.11.99
24.1.00
61

Session 1999-2000
First Report: School Meals
14.12.99
14.2.00
62
Second Report: Visit to USA: Raising Educational Standards and the Role of the Private Sector
7.3.00
n/a
n/a
Third Report: The Draft Part-time Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000
22.3.00
(in typescript);
23.3.00
18.5.00
57
Fourth Report: Employability and Jobs: Is There A Jobs Gap?
19.4.00
16.6.00
58
Fifth Report: Work Permits for Overseas Footballers
18.5.00
10.7.00
53
Sixth Report: Standards and Quality in Education: the Annual Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools 1998-99
16.5.00
OFSTED 29.5.00
DfEE 12.7.00
OFSTED 13
DfEE 57
Seventh Report: The Role of Private Sector Organisations in Public Education
29.6.00
1.9.00
64
Eighth Report: New Deal for Young People: Two Years On
11.7.00
3.11.00
115

Session 2000-01
First Report: Early Years
11.1.01
20.3.01
67
Second Report: OFSTED Corporate Plan 2000
19.12.10
DfEE 13.2.01
OFSTED 19.2.01
DfEE 53
OFSTED 59
Third Report: Recruiting Unemployed People
07.2.01
23.3.01
44
Fourth Report: Higher Education: Access
08.2.01
23.3.01
43
Fifth Report: New Deal: An Evaluation
20.3.01
9.5.01
48
Sixth Report: Higher Education: Student Retention
23.3.01
DfEE 2.5.01
HEFCE 9.5.01
DfEE 40
HEFCE 47
Seventh Report: Age Discrimination in Employment
27.3.01
8.5.01
42
Eighth Report: Standards and Quality in Education: the Annual Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools for 1999-2000
11.5.01
Not yet due
-


Unprinted papers

17. We take this opportunity to report formally a number of memoranda, either from inquiries laid aside or which have not been completed, or which were submitted to the Committee or either of its Sub-committees outside the framework of a particular inquiry, which have not yet been formally reported to the House. These unprinted papers will be placed in the public domain, both in the House of Commons Library and (for members of the public) in the House of Lord Records Office.

18. The Table below contains a list of Minutes of Evidence which we have taken over the course of the Parliament but which are not related to the production of a Report.

MINUTES OF EVIDENCE PUBLISHED WITHOUT REPORT 1997-2001


1997-98

Education and Employment The Funding of Student Loans
(HC 497-i)
Review of the Government's First Year in Office
(HC 930-i)
Education Sub-committeeExcellence for All Children: The Green Paper on Special Educational Needs
(HC 421-i)
The Annual Report of HM Chief Inspector of Schools 1996-97
(HC 551-i)
New Appointment Hearing: The OFSTED Complaints Adjudicator
(HC 981-i)
Employment Sub-committeeEU Employment Issues
(HC 391-i and -ii)

1998-99

Education and Employment The DfEE's Expenditure Plans 1998-99
(HC 165)[18]
Education Sub-committeeThe Green Paper "Teachers: Meeting the Challenge of Change"
(HC 350-i)
Raising Standards in Disadvantaged Urban Communities
(HC 695-i)
Highly Able Children: Follow-up
(HC 680-i)
The Work of UCAS/ Payment of Student Loans
(HC 824)
OFSTED Annual Report/ The Work of OFSTED
(HC 884)
Employment Sub-committeeEU Employment Issues
(HC 72-i)
TECs/RDAs and other Lifelong Learning Issues
(HC 97-i)
The Employment Consequences of European Economic and Monetary Union
(HC 547-i to -iv)

1999-2000

Education and EmploymentDfEE Funding: DfEE Departmental Report 2000
(HC 502-i and -ii)
Education Sub-committeeGeneral Teaching Council
(HC 239-i)
Teaching Trades Unions
(HC 722)
Employment Sub-committeeThe Creation of a New Agency for People of a Working Age
(HC 662-i)[19]

2000-01

Education and EmploymentDfEE Funding: DfEE Departmental Report 2001
(HC 451-i)
Education Sub-committeeHigher Education: Access (follow-up)
(HC 329)
Early Years (follow-up)
(HC 438-i and -ii)
Employment Sub-committeeWork-Life Balance
(HC 461)


19. One paper which we have decided to print as an Appendix to this Report, which will continue to be relevant for the Committee's work in the next Parliament, is the brief prepared at our request by the DfEE on the planning and reporting documents used by DfEE and OFSTED (see pages xi to xiv).

20. We would like to thank all those who have assisted the Committee during the course of the Parliament. The quality and usefulness of our work is in large part dependent on the willingness of witnesses to give their time and share their expertise. We are equally grateful to those whom we have met in the course of visits either in the UK or overseas. The insights we have gained have added greatly to the development of our thinking and the clarity of our conclusions. Special thanks go to the specialist advisers who have served the Committee over the course of the Parliament, for their guidance and insights, without which our work would have been the poorer.


1  
First Report from the Liaison Committee, Session 1999-2000, Shifting the Balance: Select Committees and the Executive, HC 300, paragraph 52. Back

2  First Special Report from the Education and Employment Committee, Session 2000-01, The Work of the Committee, HC 206. Back

3  First Report from the Liaison Committee, Session 2000-01, Shifting the Balance: Unfinished Business, HC 321-I, paragraph 58. Back

4  Fourth Report from the Education and Employment Committee, Session 2000-01, Higher Education: Access, HC 205. Back

5  Sixth Report from the Education and Employment Committee, Session 2000-01, Higher Education: Student Retention, HC 124. Back

6  First Report from the Education and Employment Committee, Session 2000-01, Early Years, HC 33. Back

7  Second Report from the Education and Employment Committee, Session 2000-01, OFSTED Corporate Plan 2000, HC 34. Back

8  Eighth Report from the Education and Employment Committee, Session 2000-01, Standards and Quality in Education: The Annual Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector for Schools for 1999-2000, HC 362. Back

9  Minutes of Evidence taken before the Education Sub-committee on 25 April and 1 May 2001, HC 438-i and -ii. Back

10  Minutes of Evidence taken before the Education Sub-committee on 14 March 2001, HC 329. Back

11  Fifth Report from the Education and Employment Committee, Session 2000-01, New Deal: An Evaluation, HC 58. Back

12  Third Report from the Education and Employment Committee, Session 2000-01, Recruiting Unemployed People, HC 48. Back

13  Seventh Report from the Education and Employment Committee, Session 2000-01, Age Discrimination in Employment, HC 259. Back

14  Minutes of Evidence taken before the Employment Sub-committee on 2 May 2001, HC 461. Back

15  HC 451-i. The DfEE Departmental Report is published as Cm 5102. Back

16  HC 206, page xi. Back

17  HC 206, para. 19. Back

18  incorporating HC 897-i, Session 1997-98. Back

19  Joint meeting with the Social Security Committee. Back


 
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